By Kids, For Kids
As a wishful young volunteer, student Kenan Pala noticed a lack of opportunities for people his age to get involved. In 2017 he took matters into his own hands and founded Kids4Community, a nonprofit organization that opens doors not just for adults, but for children of all ages to give back to their community in a meaningful way. Kids4Community partners with local charitable organizations to help meet their needs as well as creating kid-friendly volunteer opportunities, including beach cleanups, serving meals at homeless shelters, and creating care packages for students in need. Join our conversation with Kids4Community President Kenan Pala to find out more about how the organization is making a difference.
Q&A with Kids4Community President Kenan Pala
Can you give us a brief history of Kids4Community? When was it started and why?
I started Kids4Community in January of 2017 after I was on a team that broke the Guinness World Record for the largest cardboard mosaic in order to raise awareness for homelessness in our community. After seeing what was possible when a group of dedicated and passionate youth volunteers came together for a common goal, I was inspired to start Kids4Community.
What is Kids4Community’s mission?
Our mission at Kids4Community is to help kids help the community. We try and create programs where kids of any age can volunteer. Adding onto the Guinness World Record, when I was younger I found it very hard to volunteer as so many organizations had mandatory orientations during school hours or age restrictions that I was unable to meet. At Kids4Community we create programs that enable anyone who has the passion to volunteer easily and meaningfully.
Which charitable organizations do you work with?
Kids4Community works with numerous organizations to create kid-friendly volunteering events. Just this past summer we have partnered with San Diego Coastkeeper to create beach cleanups at our beaches in San Diego. We have partnered with an organization in Escondido called Interfaith Community Services to create monthly/bi-monthly dinner servings at their homeless shelter. We have also just recently partnered with a local school in Barrio Logan called Perkins Elementary to work on creating a Back2School care package event for the students that attend grades one through five.
Please tell us about the kinds of programs you provide.
Kids4Community provides many different types of events that are all kid-friendly. We serve dinner at an organization called Interfaith Community Services on a monthly/bi-monthly basis. Also, we create events that are seasonal such as a holiday drive in the winter, a beach cleanup in the summer, and disaster relief events during hurricane season. Last year we did a disaster relief event for Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Maria, and the Central Mexico earthquake. We are currently working with Perkins Elementary to create a program where students from San Diego come to Perkins Elementary on a weekly/bi-weekly basis to talk to the students there, help them with homework, or play with them (as many of their parents work over 12-hour shifts or multiple jobs to support their kids).
“Volunteering helps children stay grateful and active.”
Which areas does your organization serve?
Our organization serves in areas all around San Diego. We do all of our drives (disaster reliefs, holiday drives, back-to-school events, etc.) at an office space in Scripps Ranch called Confirm Biosciences. We serve dinner to the homeless in Escondido, and we organize beach cleanups on beaches all around San Diego (La Jolla Cove, Mission Bay, etc.), and we are working on setting up a program with Perkins Elementary in Barrio Logan.
Kenan Pala At-A-Glance
School: Francis Parker School
Community: Rancho Bernardo
Hobbies and Interests: Playing the guitar, running, biking, swimming, and stocks/investing
Favorite Spot in 92131: Lake Miramar
What is your current role within the organization? Please elaborate on your specific responsibilities.
I am the founder and president of Kids4Community. I work on organizing the events, running the day-to-day managements, answering emails and inquires, organizing volunteers, fundraising, and marketing.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
The most rewarding aspect of my role is being able to see the impact that our events have. At the end of every event, taking some time to think about what we’ve accomplished and how much more we can is what inspires me to volunteer, as volunteering is such a heart-filling and inspiring thing to do. Someone once said that as we grow older we will discover that we have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.
Who else is involved with leadership at Kids4Community?
There are many others involved with Kids4Community and in leadership at Kids4Community. We have numerous youth volunteers aiding Kids4Community through drone shots of events, filmography, or reaching out to other possible organizations. We also just recruited an ambassador who works with connecting us with other organizations and such (he helped us get in contact with Perkins Elementary School). My family has also been amazing through the process – helping me come up with ideas for events, helping me run events, and helping me run Kids4Community.
“Someone once said that as we grow older we will discover that we have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.”
How do you believe children benefit from doing charity work?
We at Kids4Community believe that when children begin volunteering at a young age they are able to develop lifetime skills and personality traits that they can carry on with them later in their life so that when they reach adulthood they most likely will continue charity work and benefit society for the better. Also, volunteering helps children stay grateful and active. With electronics and video games dominating countless hours of most kids’ days, volunteering serves as a way for kids to go outside and help others as well as remain grateful for the lives they have.
Are there any upcoming projects or events the community should know about?
We serve dinner at homeless shelters on a monthly basis and have many more projects for young volunteers. We post all our events on our website and our Facebook page.
What are Kids4Community’s short-term and long-term goals?
In the short-term, we would like to help volunteer many more kids with our organizations and continue to help people in San Diego. Also, in the short-term we hope to construct partnerships with many more organizations such as Perkins Elementary and Interfaith Community Services. However, in the long-term, we are looking to volunteer youth ambassadors outside San Diego to establish Kids4Community around the United States to expand our impact and volunteer more kids.
How can interested community members get involved with Kids4Community?
If anyone is interested in volunteering or getting involved with Kids4Community they can visit our website, www.kids4.org, and go to our upcoming events page and register for one of our upcoming events.
If you could grant your organization one wish, what would it be?
If I could grant our organization one wish, it would be to have more funding. With more funding, more doors would open to events and people we could help.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity, and thank you so much for featuring us in your magazine!